Kofi Annan

Week 106 (10 - 16 October 2015)

This week, IOC President Thomas Bach presented former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the Olympic Order in Gold. Initially awarded to Annan in 2007, the Ghanaian's schedule meant he was unable to collect the award at the time.

Despite the eight-year lag, Annan's speech in Lausanne displayed his characteristic passion and understanding of sport that earned him the accolade in the first place.

Speaking from Lausanne, the 77-year-old said:

"The Olympic spirit is something that has been with me for a long time... Sport is a great education. Some of the things I learnt that took me through life, through the Secretary-Generalship, I picked up in the sports field, where you learn to play in a team, where you learn to respect rules, where you learn not only to play in a team but to allow for individual brilliance."

The Olympic Order in Gold was awarded to Annan for his many years of service to sport and for championing the unifying power of sport through the Kofi Annan Foundation. During his time as Secretary-General, Annan was a staunch supporter of sports-related initiatives and projects, introducing the International Year of Sport and Education in 2005 and appointing Adolf Ogi as the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the UN in 2001.

The role is currently held by Wilfried Lemke and has recently taken on even greater importance with the inclusion of sport in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Annan is an effective communicator on the unifying power of sport, and his personal and impassioned championing of the role of sport in UN objectives has paved the way for the IOC and the UN to establish a close partnership in tackling global issues.

The latest example of this alliance occurred last week with the IOC announcing the provision of US$600,000 to the "One Win Leads to Another" project in partnership with UN Women. Initiatives such as these provide real-world social change and are a direct legacy of Annan's time at the UN and his communications ability.

Photo: Wikipedia